** Muslim view and opinion on Afghan who converted from Islam to Christianity **
America's leading Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who I (Ahmed Bedier) represent in Florida, did the right thing by calling for the release of an Afghan man who claims to have left Islam for Christianity. A few Muslims might be scratching their head and asking "wait a minute why are Muslims supporting a man's right to leave their religion." The answer is clear in the Quran, the ultimate source of Islamic Law or Shariah. Now before I get a ton of email asking for my clerical credentials, I confess that I am not a scholar by any means nor do I have the authority to give any sort of fatwa.
But read for yourself:
- 'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' (Quran 2:256)
Islam came to liberate mankind from oppressive nations/tribes who forced religion on the people. Since Islam came and wherever it spread people enjoyed freedom of religion. European Christians, who were forced to practice what the Church forced upon them, envied those living in the Muslim World who were free to practice their faith as they wanted to.
- 'If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe?' (Quran 10:99)
- '(O Prophet) proclaim: 'This is the Truth from your Lord. Now let him who will, believe in it, and him who will, deny it.'' (Quran 18:29)3)
Both verses are divine testaments in the Quran on the concept of free will. Even God the Almighty has given mankind free will to choose their faith, will mankind restrict that free will on their subjects?? It doesn't make sense.
- 'If they turn away from thee (O Muhammad) they should know that We have not sent you to be their keeper. Your only duty is to convey My message.' (Quran 42:48)4)
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed away, Muslims inherited the message from the messenger (pbuh). Muhammad (pbuh), the beloved example, was not sent to force religion on people or be their keeper. His duty, which Muslims inherited, is to only convey the message. Let God be the judge.
Some folks reading this will say 'that's cool and all, but how is it that Afghanistan is justifying the prosecution (and possible death penalty) of a man who changed his religion? My only guess is, since I have not found any official position yet, is that they're interpreting Islamic Law based on ancient conditions, where Islamic scholars use to equate apostasy (leaving the religion) to treason. Back then Islamic scholars used to define earth/world in geo-political terms of 'Dar al-Islam' the abode of Islam and 'Dar al-Harb' the abode of war. Which meant that if a person was not among the Muslims or from the Muslims he/she joined the other abode and committed an act of treason against the Islamic state. However in many parts of the Muslim world this was considered a narrow interpretation. Since in places like Spain and India where Muslims ruled for centuries they rarely ever persecuted non-Muslims.
The bottom line is Islam is not hurting for numbers, it continues to be one of the fastest growing religions (if not the fastest) and is the 2nd largest religious community in the world. Numbers are not important, as my father always told me "Ahmed, it's not the quanity that we need, it's the Quality!" He couldn't be more right.
Islamic scholars in Afghanistan need to rethink their position on the issue of apostasy, and interpert the Quran and Islamic law in the context and reality of today. There is NOT as single verse in the Quran that commands death for those that leave the faith.
While some might rightly argue that it is premature to release any statements on the individual case of Abdul Rahman, since we don't have the facts of his case, we can still take a position on the issue of apostasy. In the coming days and weeks we learn more and more about Abdul Rahman and why he was arrested in the first place.
To Read what other scholars have said about the topic, check out the following links:
note: Ahmed Bedier is not responsible for the content found on the above links and/or any other website.